Three Airlines Hit With Major Fees for Passenger Rights Violations

Jul 26, 2017

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Although airline passenger rights in the US aren’t quite as extensive as those in Europe, certain protections do exist here in the States. When carriers are found in violation of these rules, the US Department of Transportation hands out fines — and American, Delta and Frontier recently were on the receiving end for a variety of reasons.

American Airlines

American was handed a fine of $250,000 for failing to issue refunds to passengers in a timely manner in the first half of 2015. AA blamed the delay on discrepancies in the computer systems being integrated following its 2013 merger with US Airways. Under 14 CFR 259.5 9(b), airlines have to issue refunds within 20 days. The fine statement did not say how long American was taking to issue refunds, but called its actions “unfair and deceptive.”

Delta Air Lines

Delta received a $200,000 fine after being caught fudging its baggage-handling numbers. The DOT told Delta last year that its baggage reporting policy was non-compliant. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Delta failed to properly report damage when replacing damaged bags with a new piece of luggage. Delta didn’t use the reporting program required by the government, known as World Tracer. If the airline had properly reported the damaged bags, its 2012-2013 baggage ranking would have likely dropped from fourth to fifth.

Delta was also slapped with a $90,000 fine in March, for failing to offer adequate food service during extended tarmac delays at New York-JFK and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). And a week ago, the airline found itself on the receiving end of a Twitter tirade from conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier received the largest fine of the bunch. It’ll have to hand over $400,000 for failing to solicit volunteers before bumping passengers in cases of over-sold flights, along with failing to assist disabled passengers in getting on and off aircraft, or within airport terminals. The Denver Business Journal reports that Frontier has promised to update its policies in response to these incidents.

Over-sold flights have been in the news a lot this year, as in the United Airlines case of the dragging incident and subsequent injury of Dr. David Dao. Since that incident, United and Delta announced they would dramatically increase the maximum compensation offered to volunteers during over-sells.  Dallas-based Southwest has promised to stop over-selling flights completely.

Featured photo by Kathryn Scott Osler / Getty Images

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